Diagnostic Exams

Diagnostic examinations in music theory and music history are required of all incoming graduate students, except those who received a Master’s degree from the LSU School of Music within the preceding four years and are entering a doctoral program.

The purpose of diagnostic examinations is to determine whether students are equipped to undertake history and theory courses at the graduate level.

Students who do not take these exams will be automatically enrolled in the remedial courses in music history and music theory.

The degree of accomplishment expected is equivalent to that of LSU’s graduating seniors. On the basis of these examinations, the undergraduate courses MUS 3703, MUS 3704, and/or MUS 3710 may be required as prerequisites for graduate level courses in music history and music theory.

These examinations are critically important. Diligent preparation and review can significantly improve your performance on them. If you are required to take remedial courses, they will provide a valuable opportunity to enhance your knowledge and sharpen your skills.

For additional information regarding Diagnostic Exams, contact Blake Howe for music history and Inessa Bazayev for music theory. For general questions about graduate admissions, contact cmdagradstudies@lsu.edu

All diagnostic exams are in-person experiences, offered on certain dates each semester. Current information for dates and times of exams can always be found on this page.

Upcoming Diagnostic Exam Sessions

January 12, 2023
Music & Dramatic Arts Building, Room 221

  • History diagnostic exam: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • Theory diagnostic exam: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Music Theory

In this diagnostic exam, students are tested on their knowledge of music theory and aural skills. Below are suggestions and guidelines on what to prepare for.

Review Theory Concepts

  • Choral-style (SATB) part writing: realizing figured bass; adding missing parts to a given four-art chorale
  • Roman-numeral analysis
  • The analysis of non-chord tones
  • Chromaticism: secondary (applied) dominants,
  • Neapolitan and Augmented Sixth chords, fully diminished
    sevenths, modal mixture
  • Modulation: methods of moving to closely and more distantly related keys

Identify Musical Scores

  • Phrases: similar and contrasting; sentence structures
  • Cadences: perfect and imperfect authentic, half, deceptive, plagal
  • Periods: parallel and contrasting

Diagram Common Musical Forms

  • Binary: rounded and simple
  • Ternary
  • Rondo: five- and seven-part
  • Fugue: be able to identify subject and countersubject entries
  • Sonata form: the parts of an exposition and their usual harmonic relationships; the usual harmonic profile of developments and recapitulations

Your exam results will be analyzed by the theory faculty.

Based on the number of questions that you failed to answer correctly, you may be recommended to take the summer music theory module.

If you were recommended to take the summer module, more information will be sent to you pertaining to its length, layout, and exams.


Music History

You will be notified about the result by the end of the day following the exam.

If you pass the exam, you can register for 7000-level music history courses. If you do not pass the exam and have taken it for the first time, you can retake it at the beginning of the next semester.

If you fail the exam for a second time, you will have to register for MUS 3710, which is offered during the spring semester.